Archive by Author | Paul Casey

Cloud or Multi-cloud: Customers need not just one partner or vendor, but an ecosystem of providers

A little over a month ago we officially opened our new office in Dublin. Along with our UK MD, Neil Hall, we presented the investments we have been making in Computacenter’s portfolio of offerings, and how these can help our Irish customers achieve their goals.

While many of our customers who have a presence in Ireland will already be aware of the Computacenter proposition, many new to Ireland may not. In my presentation, I focussed on a couple of key topics: our relationship and capability around AWS & VMware; and the IP we have developed to help customers accelerate their developments with multiple cloud providers. We subscribe to the school of thought that multi-cloud will continue be the dominant approach towards cloud in the enterprise market, and if that is the case, then we also believe we have some very differentiating IP in our Hybrid Cloud Adoption Framework (HCAF).

Recognition of our investment in HCAF, partnerships and capabilities

I had the opportunity to repeat some of these same messages in Arizona last week, while at VMware’s Partner leadership Summit, where I shared with VMware & their top partners from across EMEA what HCAF is, and why it is important in a market where VMware will be consumed alongside AWS, Azure, GCP, etc. I must have done an OK job, as one of the partners from the Middle East offered to buy the IP! Later the same day, I went on stage to pick up the ‘VMware EMEA Public Cloud Integration’ Award on behalf of Computacenter, recognising the work we have done investing in HCAF and our broader public cloud partnerships and capability. What I find exciting about this recognition is the fact we have not even started to tell the story about the work we have been putting into the infrastructure as code (IaC) and containers space.

When it comes to awards, Computacenter & our hybrid IT & platforms team seem to be on a roll just now receiving some long overdue recognition for the work we have delivered to date. Since the week before the event in Dublin, we have picked up a few notable awards, including:

VMware UK&I Partner of the Year
• DELL EMC EMEA Partner of the year
• DELL EMC Presidents Circle
• VMWare EMEA Public Cloud Integration

Industry recognition really does helps us differentiate when we are speaking to our customers. Receiving accolades from across several vendors helps even more, as what our customers need right now is not one partner or vendor, but an ecosystem of providers who will work together and collaborate on behalf of the customer, and that is what we strive to deliver. Neither cloud nor multi-cloud represents a finishing line, where it all stops once you are there. The evolution rolls on as the market continues to find new ways of creating solutions that bring additional value and efficiencies.

Realising the value and delivering the business case

But with cloud, some things do need to be finished to realise the value and deliver the business case. In a recent customer example at Eversheds, click here to view the video case study, the greatest satisfaction was not the winning of the project, or delivery of their new cloud platform, it was the pictures of the man with the sweeping brush in the empty DC once we had migrated everything to the cloud and handed the keys back to the customer. While this might not seem like an important task, failure to finish the job and empty the datacenter means it’s still an asset on the customer’s books and the business case is not realised. As much as we herald HCAF, our cloud partnerships and awards plus our ability and track record of closing datacenter’s and handing keys back, are both up there as key components in our cloud value proposition.

Want to know more about the journey of bridging private and public cloud? Watch the Carpool tech Talk with me and Nick McAllister from VMware.

My Tamagotchi spawned a Software Defined Future

Reading through the results of our Survey on Software Defined, it is apparent that people have different perspectives around what the real benefits of ‘Software Defined’ are. That’s no surprise as the term is as confused, abused and overused as Cloud was. So where did Software Defined (SD) come from, where is it heading, and what will it deliver in term of benefits?

While the term Software Defined was still some 15 years away from being coined, I like to think ‘Software Defined’ inadvertently started with the launch of the child’s toy Tamagotchi way back in 1996. The point is, the small, plastic object was a mere platform for the pixelated Software Defined, duck like, alien pet thing. You could not touch this SD pet, but you knew it was there and the more you looked after it with Software Defined food, snacks, tidied up it’s software poops – the more it could do. Don’t look after it and the thing experienced a virtual death…That was not game over fortunately, as you could then re-spawn a new life at the touch of a button. While this is normal practice with toys, what is a bit worrying was that the creator of Tamagotchi designed the toy as a way of teaching teenage girls how to look after children….

Today, we have moved on to all manner of IT components being defined and delivered as software, then managed by intelligent software. This is what the term Software defined means to most people today. So the bigger picture or true potential of SD is all about automating IT and self-service portals right? WRONG! That’s a bit like comparing the scope of the Tamagotchi from ‘96 with today’s games that leverage an Oculus Rift headset….

SD is about so much more than that for the companies who can see the bigger picture. Those companies are leveraging Software Defined to streamline the way they deliver business services, sure they are removing cost from and streamlining IT operations, but by connecting deep into the business and development functions of the organisation, they are shortening the path between their customers or users and service delivery.

In this scenario, being Software Defined means offering a portfolio of (software) pre-defined business services, delivered in the form required by the requestor…either delivering IaaS, PaaS or other services on a physical IT platform… defined, delivered and managed by software…leveraging all of those lovely software defined, Compute, Networks and Storage elements.  On demand, dynamic, to a known state and elastic.

The Companies making this change aim to get products to market faster, reducing the cost of service delivery and being more agile than their competition in reacting to business change and market and customer demands.

This is not the same as using Software Defined technologies to deliver just IT’s role better, faster and cheaper from a self-service IT portal. It’s about mapping out the path from initiation to delivery of business services, applications, SD Infrastructure components and then automating the said delivery through software tools. Once the service is delivered, it’s then managed by software. Software developed to understand the bigger picture and react to changes to ensure the defined service availability criteria are met.

Clearly this brings significant benefits and extends some way beyond the typical role of IT today. SD enables the situation where delivery of the shortest path necessitates blurring the lines between the Business Lines and IT – the situation that enables DevOps to exist; that Supports Agile IT, Sprints and the things associated to the second, faster gearing of two Speed IT. These SD projects deliver big benefits across the business, but the Software defined technology is but one part of the transformation required. This sort of gear change involves rethinking the role of IT and way IT services are delivered… impacting the Technology, Processes and the People.

These are exciting and changing times for Computacenter and our customers.

In the clouds or in the sand – where is your head at?

I spend a lot of time flying, and I mean a LOT. So much so, that the new next door neighbours didn’t question my wife when she told them I was a trolley dolly for Easyjet  and that was why I left the house just after 05.00 so often. Now there are clearly a lot of downsides to living in Edinburgh and having your main customers and the team ‘down sarf’. The days can be long and the early starts don’t do a lot for your family life, but I find there are a few upsides. Like that little window of opportunity between boarding and 35,000 ft. where all portable devices are switched off,  when I  could chose to;

  •  Sleep. Nah, I’ll sleep when I’m dead thanks.
  • Squint out the corner of my eye at the X-rated gardening book seat 14B is reading (50 sheds of grey?) –Emmmm NO!
  • Create,  contemplate and plan with back to basics pen and paper – Yep.  I love this time, it allows me to step back, stop consuming information and use the time to reflect and contemplate about our Cloud Strategy, our customers and how the market might look in the future.

So when I’m travelling, besides visiting my favourite city that is LDN, I get to see a lot of other really nice places thanks to my role. In fact before I headed to LHR on Monday this week, I had just arrived back last night from the Computacenter Vendor Golf Challenge in La Manga, Spain. Top quality food, wine, and lodgings… but more than that, the chance to spend a few days on some of the best golf courses with some of the biggest hitters  in the UK IT market.  It’s a pretty unique event, 16 vendor teams, a lot of them who are the best of enemies by day, but who all share a common bond in that they are all major, and very important  partners of Computacenter.  So besides discussing who is playing the best golf or has the most suspect handicap, we talk a lot about the IT market.

Due to my role, Cloud is always the order of the day and the one thing  I think every vendor agrees with is that Cloud is having and will continue to have, a significant impact on the IT market we all know and love, for customers, vendors and service providers alike. The arms race that is the public Cloud market will impact us all for sure if we don’t evolve, as the buyer changes and customer shifts from purchasing hardware and perpetual software licenses,  to consuming what was complex IT, as a service. A service where the badge on the technology  is less relevant, and service levels, cost and functionality are king. The IT market is going through a BIG transformation, probably more so than at any other time in my 25+ years in IT.

It was for one of our key partners, EMC that I agreed to sit on a panel at a media only session recently at EMC forum, discussing the subject of IT Transformation. I was talking about how organisations contemplating IT transformation in the last 18 months have a new dimension to contemplate with Cloud and the private and public ‘as a service’ market now becoming a very viable service delivery model. I was describing that by contemplating the shift to consuming IT as a service, the transformation was as much about transforming IT folks as it was about technology – where people have to be knowledgeable  in service, IT costs, IT process, understanding the business  and a whole lot more, on top of getting to grips with not just one area, but every layer of technology as Infrastructure converges.

Now I’m not proposing that cloud technology will replace traditional IT, they will co-exist for sure, but Cloud computing will have a big impact on many people and it’s time to think about how you might be impacted, and how you need to transform. For many, the days of making a career out of knowing a single layer of technology or shipping MORE storage are numbered. Far too many people, including many within Computacenter  who are used to being treated as a highly valuable IT asset by their employer are going to have to evolve or risk being marginalised by market that could bypass them.  It’s important to take time out from keeping the lights on, get your head out of the sand  at least spend some time contemplating in the Clouds.


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